Mon, 22 June 2020
Building our signature style takes time. As well, it evolves. While some components - the best color tone for our skin, hair and eye color - may remain the same, the fit, the lengths, the necklines, as well as styles we discover and wish to welcome into our wardrobe will change.
Over the years, as you can see above, my dress length has gone from just above the knee to midi length being now my favorite go-to. While I do love wearing dresses, you are just as likely to see me in denim jeans and a button-up shirt, or a camisole and blazer with either heels or flats. Having options is wonderful, and cultivating our closets to offer these options takes time.
Thankfully, as we learn more about ourselves, the lifestyle we enjoy living (something that changes as well as the chapters of our lives continue to unfold) the decision-making becomes easier. All of this is to say, that while we may be shopping less often as what we have in our wardrobe is made well and lasts for many years, we also know when we come across something that will fit perfectly for our way of living and can snatch it up (if it is in our budget at the moment) without giving it much thought. The clarity of time and knowledge about ourselves is exceptionally helpful which is one component that will be discussed in today's episode.
Today's podcast episode is a top episode from Season One of The Simple Sophisticate which shares in detail the seven components to building your own signature style. My first book dives into this far more and my second book focuses with great detail on cultivating effortless style, so be sure to check those out if this topic piques your interest.
As promised, below are the linen dresses Ralph Lauren currently has available.
SHOP THE ITEMS HERE:
Images: (1) Danielle Fichera resort collection 2019; (2) & (3) DVF.
Sun, 14 June 2020
"Being in touch with [the essence] of ourselves as we make financial decisions is as good as it gets. Money is a store of life energy, and when we can channel that life energy into an expression of what is most dear to our soul, an exciting alignment takes place between our financial and spiritual lives . . . more than just having enough, our essence is deeply loving, contented, and grateful, not from any effort but as its most natural expression . . . In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels efficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort." —Brent Kessel, author of It's Not About the Money
Money can seem to be the fix for everything or the curse, but it need not be either, and can be in our control, largely when we shift how we approach our view and role of money in our life.
Today I would like to share with you key insights I discovered after reading Brent Kessel's book It's Not About the Money in which he dives into the unconscious emotional psychological nature money plays in our lives and how and why we make the decisions we make - for better or worse.
1.Understand how your emotions are related to your relationship with money
What is your Core Story when it comes to your relationship with money? When you understand this inner dialogue that is unconsciously being told and accepted, thus guiding your decisions when it comes to what you believe will make you happy, you begin to take control of your relationship with money and improve the quality of your life. Why? Because you are now living consciously, and your decision making improves as it aligns with your true essence as Brent Kessel describes - your true self, what will make you feel truly content, outside of what society has impressed upon you. Below are a couple of the questions to begin asking yourself to get to the truth of what your Core Story actually is:
While we need to live in the present to live well, understanding the past events of our lives and how they have scripted our thinking about money is vital. The Core Story is accepted Kessel writes because "whatever the content, with the unconscious hope that if we follow it, we'll be protected from feeling difficult or painful emotions."
Simply understanding what your Core Story is not going to improve your relationship with money. Rather, it is an ongoing job that begins with awareness, but then is followed up with "skill, intention, and perseverance to lessen the hold of our unconscious condition . . . we must keep working to identify and retain the healthiest parts of our story's message - [for example, the good saving habits, the on-time bill paying, etc.] - while at the same time letting go of the extreme and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes it has engendered in us."
2. Do the necessary work within to achieve the outer results you seek
"Though outer wealth rarely leads to inner wealth, inner wealth often does lead to outer wealth."
Kessel speaks of the Middle Way being the chosen path to take in order to have a healthy relationship with money and our understanding of wealth. In other words, "true freedom lies neither in self-indulgence nor in austere asceticism". When we choose to do the inner work that is necessary, it requires of each of us to use our mind, and think critically, which means that we must think well and not rely on defaults and habits that are unproductive to our goal of cultivating "healthy wealth".
I especially appreciated the author's sharing of his conversation with the Dalai Lama when he [the Dalai Lama] responded to the question about a method for happiness for Americans. "When there's too much stress or too much worry, look inward! Read more. Think. Trying to find the answer from outside yourself is nonsense! Think more." What thinking exactly though, are we talking about? Start with #1, understand your Core Story, deepen your awareness, and begin asking the "why"s - Why do you feel this decision would reduce your stress or increase your happiness? Why do you feel owning [fill in the blank what you are considering purchasing/paying for] will be a smart decision for you life? Why do you feel [insert negative emotion] when certain things in your life are happening? Why do you feel [insert positive emotion] when certain things are happening in your life? And continue asking and exploring - the four "W" questions are part of thinking well - Who, What, When, Where, Why.
"When we are caught in extreme thoughts, beliefs, and conditioning, we sow the seeds of financial discontent."
3. Become fluent in the language of the Wanting Mind
"The Wanting Mind continually takes us out of the present moment in its attempts to make us happy in some better tomorrow." —Brent Kessel
True contentment requires that we remain present in our daily lives. The Wanting Minds requires that we live in the future.
A clear conflict. If we are content, we are not wanting, and if we are wanting we cannot be content.
True freedom from "want" is knowledge of how it works. Whenever an impulse to buy anything arises, a croissant, a clothing item online, anything large or small, "look sincerely at the root of the behaviors your mind has always told you would make you happy". Social conditioning has been happening our entire lives and will not end, but when we are aware of the attempt to social condition, and become clear about whether it is helpful or hindering, we can respond rather than react to the impulses of wanting when they arrive, thus making the best decision in that moment to cultivate a healthy approach to wealth and our financial situation.
4. Trust your innate financial wisdom: financial planning and great investment advice is not enough
"When you are listening to your innate wisdom, you can feel a very deep part of you relax and let go. It will feel pleasing, calming and wholehearted. There will be an absence of pressure."
Kessel has readers in his book return to their 4-year-old self, such a young age that we don't have a clue what investing in the stock market is, what a pension is, compound interest, debt, etc. The reason he encourages readers to return to our young self is to try to discover or be reminded of our most true self. What is it that sincerely brings us joy? What delights us? Sparks our curiosity? Prompts us to lose all track of time?
Each of us will have our own answers, and even if, like me, you cannot fully remember what you thought at that age, you can remember where you were in your life - where you lived, with whom, etc. - and at least for me, I know how I felt. Whether I was secure or fearful? Was I completely oblivious to the world and didn't have a care in the world or was I full of anxiety? Thankfully, my memories are all positive and I am drawing from this insight to guide my money decisions and investment and savings moving forward more consciously.
To address the idea of seeking out a financial advisor. It is absolutely a worthwhile idea to find a financial advisor you trust as they are the experts in the business of the financial business sector. They can be our teacher to better understand how investing works and what our options are, but once you have that information and can ask more questions when they arise, you need to return to your innate voice. What would make you feel truly content? For myself, when I purchased my home, I didn't seek permission from my financial advisor at the time as to whether I should take certain funds and use them for my down payment. I just knew I could and did it. I knew what would bring me contentment. I knew what investments were worth it to me and the life I wanted to live, but I am grateful for her expertise so that I knew the financial rules/laws, etc..
5. Be still and just be
A common piece of advice when it comes to making a purchase that we are not sure about, or that is significant enough that it will change our lives in some way, is to wait or sleep on it for 24-hours. This is good advice, but Kessel suggests doing something additionally and possibly most importantly - examine why you are really wanting to make the purchase. Do you feel it will bring you freedom, more peace, less headaches? What are the overarching beliefs derived from your Core Story and/or societal conditioning that have taught you these beliefs? Do you fully accept them or does something within not feel settled?
In other words, again, respond rather than react. Think and be still, rather than blindly doing.
Money is a fundamental component of our lives whether we want it to be or not. It moves the world, lack of it can halt the world, but understanding our relationship to it and with it is what will elevate our personal world and thus improve the quality of our lives. Our minds need and can achieve peace of mind when it comes to money. After all, when our minds are relaxed and unstressed, they make better decisions, see things more clearly and think well. It is understanding the psychology and the emotional mentality that money provokes within us that will give us the driver's seat so that we can make the best decisions for the life we want to live.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Money: How to Know If You Have Enough, episode #138
~Starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson
~Listen to the title track of the soundtrack - Love Myself, sung by Tracee Ellis Ross (purchase it here)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #284
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 7 June 2020
"To embrace leisure, we don't have to let go of progress. [Our] constant pushing is now impeding our progress. We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits . . . [w]e can and must stop treating ourselves like machines that can be driven and pumped and amped and hacked. Instead of limiting and constraining our essential natures, we can celebrate our humanness at work and in idleness. We can better understand our own natures and abilities. We can lean in not to our work but to our inherent gifts." —Celeste Headlee Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving
For the past 10 weeks I have had the good fortune to go to work with both of my dogs. Why? Because I have been working from home.
I am able to take them for a short walk about the neighborhood before I step into my office and remote classroom, then take a break around 10:30 am as we sit on the garden porch, soaking in some sunshine and thinking about what I might want to enjoy for lunch in a few hours time. Lunch is leisurely because I can cook it, savor it, not be rushed to eat it or interrupted and our afternoon outing after about 70-90 minutes of work after lunch is to the mailbox and about the neighborhood. Returning to the office if need be to tie up loose ends, check my work email one more time (I only check my school email three times a day), when the day concludes, I am not exhausted, but I do feel productive.
Admittedly, the scenario I shared above is due to an unwanted global occurrence, and I miss my in-person connections with my students and colleagues, but what I do not miss is the excessive expectation to always be checking my email, regularly being interrupted so that I lose my focus/students' focus and requirement for a long inflexible work day (meaning not healthy breaks, a constant expectation of being "on"), and being rewarded for giving more beyond the work day even if it reduces the quality of my home life and personal relationships.
I am not complaining directly about a system that surrounds so many of us, but trying to be honest about the reality of why I was quietly thankful to have the time at home these past 10 weeks to catch my breath. I did my best to examine why, and while the emotional toll for those of us fortunate enough not to have our health and livelihoods taken away was unhealthy and exhausting, overall, I found great refuge and restoration this spring whilst staying at home, finding a schedule that worked for me as I continued to remotely teach and blog and just be home.
I also found much more time to read books that have been patiently sitting in my shopping cart, and two books furthered my exploration into how exactly improve the working environment when we begin to step back into the workplace. I have a few ideas. Take a look below.
1.Understand the history of the current work culture
"We are investing our time and energy and hard-earned money in things we think will make us more efficient, but those things end up wasting our time, exhausting us, and stressing us out without bringing us closer to or our goals." —Celeste Headlee
Journalist and bestselling author Celeste Headlee reminds readers in her recent book Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving (Amazon; Bookshop) that "[o]ur working habits changed dramatically a little more than two centuries ago" (aka as the Industrial Revolution), and not largely for the better. In fact, humans came to be seen as being capable of producing regularly and steadfastly with minimal breaks much like a machine. Humans are not machines. Our ability to be productive and creative and resilient comes from adequate and regular and in equal measure amounts rest to that of the amount of time we work. No wonder we're exhausted.
2. Enable the mind to think well so you can respond compassionately
Often we are reacting instead of responding to situations in life that arise unexpectedly or unwantingly. At the time, we are not aware because either we have always behaved in such a way or because we do not know or have not been taught a better way. Dr. Sylvia Boorstein speaks about equanimity, and as it pertains to the mind, equanimity "is the capacity of the mind to hold a clear view of whatever is happening, both externally and internally, as well as the ability of the mind to accommodate passion without losing its balance. It's the mind that sees clearly, that meets experience with cordial intent. Becuase it remains steady, and thus unconfused, it is able to correctly asses the situations it meets."
How to become clear thinkers? We acknowledge we do not know everything, and we take a step back and ask helpful questions with a calm tone. We choose to educate ourselves seeking out experts in the field we wish to learn more about - whether in book, audio, video or conversation form. We become comfortable with not having a concrete and absolute response immediately or at all and acknowledging the gray in nearly every situation that presents itself. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we rest the mind regularly and well. This includes good nights of sleep, regularly a slower pace in our schedules, days and weeks and a cultivation of environments that enable us to lower our stress levels and feel safe.
"And because we are humans and have empathy built into our brain structure, when we are touched by what we encounter — and when our minds are balanced — we respond with benevolence." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., author of Happiness is an Inside Job (Amazon; Bookshop)
~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145
3. Let go of the busy mentality
When we reduce the constant go-go-go mentality, we give our lives breath, and figuratively speaking, we give our lives oxygen to live better and thus to improve the quality of our lives. Letting go of busy feeds a cycle of life improvement because as you are letting go of busy, you are improving your decision making skills, reducing the unnecessary stress and constantly cultivating the life you want to live rather than creating more problems, more headaches and less time to adequately address and handle them.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that we may actually think we are busier than we actually are, but it is the delusion of busyness that is the cause for our mind to feel harried and thus our decision-making abilities to suffer. For example, if you feel pressed for time, this perception can lead you to making bad choices about how you spend your time. Conversely, if you feel you have time to spare, the study revealed people feel healthier and happier. So much of the quality of our lives rest in our minds. Harness the awesome tool of your mind, and you will improve your approach to living.
~Listen/Read episode/post #115 - The 8 Benefits of Banishing Busy
4. Quality productivity is not a result of excessive time given.
"If you silence your phone, close your inbox, and really focus on getting a report done, research shows you'll finish 40 percent faster, have fewer errors, and have plenty of time to take a short walk around the building and let your brain relax." — Celeste Headlee
Studies that were done decades ago have proven that more time does not equate to more output and certainly not a quality output. In 1951, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology discovered that people who put in excessive hours were the least productive of all. The most productive were the workers who worked 2-5 hours a day, so 10-20 hours a week. Recently, in Sweden, a hospital attempted to improve the working conditions for the workers, reducing their hours to six hours a day, and no more than 30 hours a week. The hospital was prepared to hire extra workers to make up for the loss of productivity, but do you know what happened? As reported in The New York Times, "The unit [performed] 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments . . . that would have gone to other hospitals." Quality over quantity and in this case it surpassed even that of the hopeful that it would simply be equitable in output.
5. Allow yourself to focus on a single task entirely and without disruption
Simply, turn off the notifications. If you work at a job that expects you to be constantly responding to emails broach the topic of productivity as studies have demonstrated if we cannot give ourselves fully to a task, we cannot do our best work. What this means for me at home is that I have been checking my school emails three times a day during the school day - when the school day begins, at noon and at the end of the day. If this will be a shift for those expecting to hear from you, perhaps send an automated response for the first month or two (or leave it in your footer) when people can expect to hear from you, how frequently you check your email, etc. so that they are not expecting an immediate response and should not worry when they do not receive one.
6. Invest in leisure
"Research shows employees who feel more detached from their jobs during their time at home are emotionally healthier and more satisfied with their lives. They're less likely to feel emotionally exhausted, and they report getting better sleep." —Celeste Headlee
Leisure time is separate from "free time" or "spare time" as Headlee defines it. Spare time is the time we find in between the work we do for our income. Leisure time is entirely separate from work. As she describes it, leisure time is "unpolluted" by work - no emails, no work calls, nor worrying about how your activity might impact your work life. Speaking for myself, while I and many other educators have been at home these past 10 weeks, it has not been leisure time during the work week. I am still, if I am not teaching online, checking my emails, responding to expectations, grading papers and aware of my actions during the school day, etc. My leisure time begins on the weekend, after the school day has ended each work day and will fully begin when our summer holiday starts later this week.
The mind behaves differently when we are on leisure time, and it is imperative that we regularly welcome it into our daily schedule. Each of us will do it differently during the work week and weekend, and perhaps even our holidays, but do make sure you have leisure time in your life to savor and enjoy. It will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life.
7. Give your mind space to become clear
"Just take one breath and another and another, with as much attention in every way as you can. The confusion will sort itself out. Inclined in the right direction, the mind takes care of itself." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D.
The untrained mind can be a weapon of destruction to ourselves and others. A trained mind, one that is understood, that is strengthened to think well, critically examine and refrain from rash assumptions due to lack of emotional intelligent understanding is an artist's prized possession. However, it is a choice to become a student of our mind. Boorstein writes, "I do not think the mind needs lots of instruction, but I do think it needs to be encouraged and continually inspired." Feed your mind well. Be conscious of what is presented to it (limit social media, be aware of the news and how much you intake, observe how you feel around certain people, the books you read, the videos, shows and television you watch). Choose to feed it with what you are curious about. Delight in learning something new and do not feel guilty for not knowing what the zeitgeist believes is most popular or most noteworthy of the moment. Give your mind space to have clarity, and when it has clarity regularly, it will be your best friend.
~How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20
So how can we institute these needed changes if research has repeatedly demonstrated the need to observe that we are human beings, not machines? We need leaders who are well-educated with the resources that demonstrates convincingly that the quality of work will not diminish and likely will increase when we see our employees as human beings. Yes, it is a culture shift, and it will take time, but it takes courage and strong, patient leadership to clearly communicate the benefit to the worker first, knowing that the company, the department, the school, our futures, will be all the better. And even if you are not in a position of leadership at the moment, communication with your leadership body, build a consensus amongst your co-workers. Schedules and approaches change with data, trusted experts and informing the public as well as those it will directly effect, as well as indirectly.
If nothing else, you can start at home and setting boundaries on your work and home life. Cultivate leisure time, practice the strengthening of your mind and begin to see your being settle, relax and enjoy your daily life far more.
~purchase in the states from Chelsea Market Baskets, NY
~purchase in the UK directly from Shortbread House of Edinburgh
Learn more about the history of shortbread below in a short video about the Shortbread House of Edinburgh company.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #283
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 31 May 2020
Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on Bookshop.org) as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th.
The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part.
Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well).
~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #282
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify